Return to Webb Home Page
Return to Homework
All teachers really want to
set high expectations and support their students' learning. All
students really want to learn, do what is asked of them, and succeed.
Unfortunately breakdowns in communication often lead to conflict
over these common interests.
To avoid such conflict teachers
need to know:
Code of Schoolwork Expectations
What Is Said
/ What Is Really Meant
- You are teaching your most wonderful and dearly
beloved lesson or book and students say: "This
is boring." You almost want to strangle
them! But if you only knew "This is boring" might really
mean "I don't understand,"
you could see that your mission is to help them understand and
overcome their frustration.
- Students need to work to learn. You are creating
appropriate high expectations, yet all the students do is complain:
"This is too much work."
What they might really mean is: "I
am not interested in the work." Students
who enjoy and are interested in what they are doing are willing
to work hard-don't assign less work, make the work more interesting.
- When students
misbehave or act out it
is so easy to start to think that "they
just don't care" but it might really
mean "I believe I can't
do the work" or "I
don't understand the work." or "I
don't know why the work is important?"
- If the teacher tells the class: "I
will notice when you do not do the work and I will talk to you
about it personally." Students may say:
"What a hard ass!"
But they might really think be thinking: "The
teacher cares about me."
- When the teacher tells the class: "Students
of your age (or level) really should be able to take responsibility
for turning in homework on your own."
The students might think this means "The
teacher doesn't care if I succeed or fail."
- When students say: "I
hate writing." They might really mean:
"I am afraid I will be
- When students say: "I
hate reading" They might really mean:
"I don't yet know how to
read very well."
- When teachers believe: Students
from that family or economic background can't do homework.
They might be communicating to students "You
are not capable. We believe there is no hope for your success."
are not allowed to take books home."
might send the message: "We
are convinced our students will fail to learn, and we don't care
if they learn or not."
grade did I get?" might not really be
about grades, but mean instead "Do
you like me? Do you approve of my work?"
- The question "When
will you pass our papers back?" can drive
even conscientious teachers crazy, but it might really mean "The
assignment I turned in meant something to me."
- When students say "Did
I miss anything important when I was gone?"
Teacher's receive: "My class means nothing to them, they
think we never do anything important." But students might
really mean: "I like this
class and am sorry I missed it."
- When teachers write a lot of comments on papers
it might mean to teachers: "I
really care about my student's writing."
But to students it could come across as: "The
teacher wants to tear us apart."
[Western Michigan University]
WMU English Department
[WMU English Education]
Created by: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revised Date: 4/98